Ridge building family legacy on the race track

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By Kyle Salomon,

Starting a family legacy can be a difficult challenge, but for Mustang resident Tanner Ridge, the challenge is accepted with open arms.

The 2010 Mustang High School graduate has been racing cars since he was the ripe age of 13 years old. He started out racing mini-sprint cars on dirt tracks and then in the past year has shifted to modified stock cars.

Ridge’s father was also a race car driver, but when Ridge turned 13,  he hung up his keys and let his son take control of the racing in the family.

Ridge had his first son nine months ago and he hopes to continue the family legacy by doing the same thing his dad did when he was a 13-year-old boy.

“I want to keep racing until the day I die,” Ridge said. “I love it. Or I’ll just race until my son is old enough to start his racing career and do the same thing my dad did and let him take over.”

The type of car Ridge races now is called a sport-mod, which means the car itself is more contained.

“The actual modified class is where you can do almost whatever you want to the car,” Ridge said. “That’s the only real difference between the sport-mod and the actual modified class. In my class you can only do so much. It keeps everybody even. You don’t have that guy that goes and spends $100,000 on a motor and wins every time.”

Ridge said most of the races take place in Lawton and Ardmore, but more tracks are being built around the area.

“There’s a new track out by Canton Lake. It’s about a mile from there and it’s called Long Dale. We’re hoping once the season starts closing up we will go try a couple of the new tracks. They also just opened one down in Wichita Falls. We plan on searching for more tracks and new places to compete.”

One of the reasons Ridge wants to find new tracks to race is seeing familiar faces on the dirt track every time you go to the same place.

“For the most part, there’s the same 20-25 guys there racing every week. You’ll have one or two new guys out there every now and then but that’s about it.”

Stock car racing is not a full-time gig for Ridge. He is an electrician for the Braums Farm in Tuttle. Ridge said he’s trying to get his electrician’s license and he’s a year and a half away from accomplishing that goal.

There are numerous professional series where stock car racing can become a full-time job, but Ridge said he doesn’t have interest in doing that.

“We do this because we love it. It’s a fun hobby for us. You have to have someone completely backing you financially in order to make it your profession because it can get real expensive real fast.”

When people are doing something they are passionate about and love doing, there’s a certain feeling that runs through their veins. Ridge is no different when it comes to racing.

“It’s a crazy adrenaline rush. It’s hard to explain exactly what it feels like. You’re so locked in, you don’t think of anything else. That’s all you can think of at that moment. For me, it’s almost a stress reliever.”

However, stock car racing isn’t the safest hobby to have in the world. Ridge said it can get pretty bumpy out on the track.

“It’s never personal or on purpose. Usually, someone isn’t going to ram you just to do it. We ride each other, though. That happened to me this past weekend. I was in fourth trying to get by the third-place car and he rode me for an entire lap.”

Winning is also in Ridge’s blood. He said competing is what it’s all about.

“We have won one feature race this year. The feature races are the main race of the night. We hope to keep getting more wins in the future.”

Ridge said having his infant son out at the tracks and around the stock-car atmosphere is important to him.

“He loves it. We rev up the engines and it doesn’t faze him at all. We want him to love being around it so when the time comes, he can take over and fill my shoes.”

Kyle Salomon is the sports editor for the Mustang News. He can be reached at ksalomon@mustangnews.info.

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